Monday, January 24, 2011

Super Bowl Traffick


Yesterday we joined our fellow Americans across this great nation in the time honored tradition of grilling burgers and brats, drinking a few brewskies, and watching football on a lazy Sunday afternoon. Good natured ribbing had been going on all week on social networking sites between friends whose team alliances superficially divided them. It was an entertaining game, especially when 338 pound Packer Raji did his touch down celebration dance. Football fans now eagerly await the Super Bowl and as the excitement builds, parties are being planned and the Dallas/Ft. Worth area is preparing for the big event.

After the football games and the kids had gone to bed I stayed up to watch a documentary on CNN called "Selling the Girl Next Door" by investigator Amber Lyon. If you missed it you can go HERE to read about it and view video clips. This documentary focused on underage girls who are illegally trafficked into the sex trade in the good old U.S of A. The statistics are overwhelming. Their stories are horrific. The truth about what is happening in our country is sickening.

Human trafficking happens all over the globe. Some people believe only former Soviet-bloc countries or the poorest of poor in the 3rd world have this problem. We conjure up images of women who are lured from impoverished villages with the promise of working as a waitress, only to be sold as sex slaves. The fact is that it isn't just a problem in other countries and it's not just women. Little boys and girls are trafficked daily and yes it is happening in our cities.

Do not misunderstand my message. I am not saying that only Americans who are trafficked are worthy of our outrage and that victims from other parts of the world are of less value. As Americans we take great pride in our ideals. After all we are the land of the free and home of the brave. The scope of problems such as this appear so massive, so foreign, so incomprehensible that we honestly can't believe its happening here. We have great difficulty wrapping our minds around the truth and are certain that there isn't anything that we as ordinary citizens could ever do about it. The sad reality is, it sometimes takes atrocities like this to happen close to home before we stand up and shout "no more!"

Recently the on-line classifieds website craigslist removed their adult services section where ads for buying people by the hour for sex were as common as ads for selling furniture. Once craigslist pulled this section, thousands of ads cropped up other on-line classifieds websites, in particular backpage(dot)com. For $5 anyone can place an add and it is reported that in 2010 backpage(dot)com earned $20 million from their adult services section.

When children are arrested in the illegal sex trade they are considered trafficking victims by federal law, not prostitutes. Many are runaways who have fled horrific homes only to find themselves in a much darker Hell. Some have untreated psychological problems. The vile pimps that enslave them purposefully addict them to drugs as a way to control their "commodity." These are children we're talking about! Kids who likely will not survive more than 7 years after they are first trafficked according to the Texas Attorney General. If they do survive, they often continue in the sex trade (many by force) but are scorned as prostitutes and drug addicts, the lowest of the low for which we as a society have little care nor compassion.

Again, if you think this isn't happening in your town, I challenge you to take a look for yourself. I'm not sending you to an underground pornography site, but rather a legitimate website for buying and selling goods and services. Visit backpage(dot)com and click a city, any city. Go to the section that says Adult. Just this morning I looked in ads placed in Waterloo, IA, Chambana, IL, Madison, WI, Oklahoma City, OK, and Omaha, NE just to name a few. These ads are for people for sale in 2011 in America! They can't blatantly advertise 11 year old girls, so they use code words like "new in town," "innocent," "ready to be broken in," or "sweet." These are not consenting adults desperate to make some money in a bad economy.

So fine. Now we know. We're outraged, shocked, saddened and yet still powerless to do anything about it. Except we aren't. Fortunately there are organizations and advocates working night and day to help victims of human trafficking. This brings me back to the Super Bowl. Even as football fans across the country are gearing up for the big game in two weeks, preparations that can only be described as evil are also underway. Pimps are traveling to North Texas with their "wares" to be sold largely to drunken men during Super Bowl weekend. Their "goods" include little girls and boys as young as 11 (and possibly younger).

According to change.org "This year, the Super Bowl Host Committee is charged "to engage in responsible planning . . . to ensure the readiness of North Texas to host the first Super Bowl in the Cowboys’ new stadium." Local anti-trafficking groups have repeatedly offered to help the Committee use its influence to educate fans and the public about the dangers of child trafficking -- which could help to prevent thousands of rapes and abuses at America's biggest sporting event. But the Host Committee has refused to take meaningful action. And thousands of children will pay the price.

Change.org is asking us to tell the 2011 Super Bowl Host Committee to take a stand against child trafficking. In Dallas, a terrific local organization called Traffick911 has created the "I'm Not Buying It" campaign. They've offered the Host Committee free PSAs, posters, banners and informational cards to educate the public and protect children from being abused and raped. But the Host Committee refuses to display the information. The Committee is working hard right now to generate good publicity for North Texas and the game, so public pressure at this moment will be especially powerful."

We CAN do something! It doesn't matter what country you're from, what political party you're affiliated with, or what religious beliefs that you may hold. This is an issue for all humanity. Help the activists who are out there doing the work that most of us cannot fathom. Tell the Super Bowl Host Committee that they have a responsibility to protect the children who'll be trafficked to Texas for the Super Bowl by signing the petition HERE Sign another petition created by rebeccaproject which is asking backpage(dot)com to shut down their escort services section and stop running erotic ads HERE! Now please, spread the word. With just a few clicks you can help put on the pressure in Texas and beyond.

"The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing." (Edmund Burke)
"Once our eyes are opened, we can't pretend we don't know what to do. God, who weighs our hearts and keeps our souls, knows what we know, and holds us responsible to act." Prov. 24:12

1 comment:

Ethan Smith said...
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